A new report from the housing charity Shelter highlights that 2 million families are breaking their budgets in order to pay the rent, with tenants in England spending £11bn a year more than they can afford.

The charity’s study shows that 4 in 10 families are spending more than 30% of income on rent, which is considered to be the benchmark for affordability. This means on average renters are paying £425 a month beyond their means, forcing people to turn to friends and family, take out loans and cut back on other essentials like healthy food to avoid being evicted.

High rents are eating up 41% of income leaving renters with little left over to cover other living costs. Shelter is calling for the government to commit to building at least 90,000 social rent homes a year over the course of the next parliament.

Mayor John Biggs has committed to delivering 2,000 council homes in Tower Hamlets. Following his election he set up an affordability commission which looked at rent levels and by implementing its recommendations rents in new council properties are up to £6,000 lower than under the previous formula.

Through working with housing associations and developers Tower Hamlets has also delivered one of the highest numbers of affordable homes in the country.

However with a waiting list for a council home of over 19,000 people many residents rely on the private rented sector with 42% of all residents now living in the private rented sector in Tower Hamlets.

Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Mayor John Biggs said: “Shelter’s report says the crisis is fuelled by a shortage of council homes. That’s why I pledged to have 2,000 council homes in delivery by 2022 and we’re making real progress in meeting that pledge. However many families will be left choosing between paying their rent and putting food on the table or heating their homes. We urgently need to get to grips with the housing crisis.”

Cllr Sirajul Islam, the Labour Group’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “As a council we’ve used our powers to help drive up standards in the private rented sector. Through our private renters’ charter and pro-actively prosecuting dodgy landlords we have done what we can with the powers government has given us but we could do much more if they gave councils the powers we need.”

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